The Raven Effect
Air date: 07/31/17
Recap By: Jeff Rush, PWPodcasts.com Specialist
-Raven thinks Jerry Lawler is the greatest worker of all-time.
-Raven was once pulled over while in a car with Lawler. The cop let them go as soon as he saw Lawler.
-The biggest compliment Raven has received is when people would ask their friends if he’s really that big of a d**k.
-Wade and Raven believe WWE is leaving money on the table with how the wrestlers approach social media.
-Raven would like to be a heel manager for an MMA fighter.
Raven starts the show off with some silly solo banter. He then introduces Wade Keller of the Pro Wrestling Torch with a few Dr. Seuss-style lines.
The two discuss the big Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier fight. Though released Monday morning, the show was recorded prior to the weekend, so the fight had not yet happened. Both felt that Jones was the clear favorite and that Cormier didn’t stand a chance.
After discussing the undercard for a few more minutes, Wade asks Raven when he got into MMA, seemingly not realizing he was much of a fan. Raven says the documentary Smashing Machine turned him on to it. He’s clearly an avid follower now.
Wade has been following MMA since shortly before UFC 1 and says it’s amazing how mature the sport is. He points out that when he first started watching the Super Bowl, there had not been as many Super Bowls as there have now been years of MMA in existence and that for some people, it’s been around their whole lives. To him, it still feels like a new sport.
Raven points out that Dave Meltzer “got crap” for reporting on MMA when it first began. Wade feels that’s a bit overrated, but counters that Meltzer did get s**t for covering so much Japanese wrestling. He goes further to say that it’s a natural step for a wrestling journalist to cover MMA as it’s an extension of wrestling and is basically what wrestling would look like if it was real.
Talk shifts to the primary reason Wade is on the show – promoting his own new show on Podcast One. He does four shows per week. Including hosting interviews on Fridays. He then mentions the show that aired last Friday and featured Wade’s interview with Stan Hansen.
Raven brings up a shoot fight Hansen had with Vader back in the day. He says Vader was wrestling stiff with Hansen, and Hansen busted him up so bad that Vader had to remove his mask, that his face had become so swollen. It appeared that his eyeball had even popped out.
Raven brings it back to MMA for a moment to ask Wade if he feels covering MMA legitimized his work. Wade feels he’s not the best person to ask, as he always applied the journalistic standards he learned in school and approached his job as a business. Therefore, he felt it was always legitimate.
Wade mentions when he was covering the Vince McMahon steroid trial in 1994, outside journalists would approach him after each day’s session to have him help explain the things they’d heard.
The guys then begin discussing wrestling psychology. Raven says both he and Wade are on the same page or at least were back when Raven did a Torch Talk.
Wade says there was an antagonism towards reporting the truth when he first started The Torch. Raven asks how interviewing Verne Gagne as his first Torch Talk subject worked out. Wade thinks Verne was uncomfortable.
Raven asks who Wade’s first interview was where he had the respect of the “old timer” he was interviewing. Wade says Jerry Jarrett in the mid-’90s comes to mind.
Wade adds from that perspective, he had an unlikely alliance with Jerry Lawler prior to Lawler’s WWF days, in that he was not a fan of the WWF product and was still comfortable being open with Wade while discussing it.
This prompts Raven to say Jerry Lawler has had a charmed life. Wade agrees, but asks him to expand on that. He talks about how Lawler was the Hulk Hogan of Tennessee. Raven was in a car with Lawler where they were pulled over, Jerry stuck his head out of the window, the cop saw who he was and waved them on. He talks about how Lawler had his own promotion and talk show. He says everything Lawler touched turned to gold.
Wade says Lawler is on his top five list of wrestlers to watch to learn how to work. He says he’s not a Jushin Liger or even a Ric Flair, but that Lawler gets every aspect of wrestling and made everything looked good.
Raven says, in his opinion, Lawler is the greatest worker of all time, better than Flair or Bret Hart. He says every match he had was different and that he never fell back on anything.
Wade brings up a panel discussion he was on at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame last year on the subject of the evolution of wrestling reporting. He says Gerald Brisco was in the crowd and asked what the biggest difference was now compared to when Wade first began 25-30 years ago.
“When I first started, wrestlers were telling me to protect the business, protect the gimmick. Now I’m preaching to the wrestlers to protect the gimmick, protect the business.”
Wade goes on about wrestlers breaking character on Twitter. Raven says the greatest compliment he ever received is when people would ask their wrestler friends if he was really that a big of a d**k. He says they really believed it and the only reason he gives it away now with his silly persona on the podcast is because he’s no longer trying to draw money. He feels that having mystique is what makes you a star. Wade agrees and says there is a whole generation of wrestlers that would rather get a “like” or a “heart” on social media than protect their image in the long run. He says it’s about money, not “likes.”
Raven says he sees independent wrestlers at smaller shows doing this all the time. They’ll have their opening match and then be standing around having a smoke together.
Wade compares wrestling to stand up comedy. He says eventually both land at a place that connects with the audience and is a slice of their authentic selves. When you find that in yourself and own it, you need to protect it. He brings up Dennis Miller playing to conservatives and Kathy Griffin playing to liberals. He says neither would go on social media and expose that it’s just their gimmick.
Wade says there is an entire generation of wrestlers who grew up with wrestling books being written and now podcasts. He brings up Baron Corbin appearing on Jericho’s show. Raven doesn’t follow the current product and interjects that he has no idea who Corbin is. Wade explains.
Raven asks if Wade, along with Meltzer, feel responsible for opening the gates to smartening up fans. Wade says it’s like saying if it weren’t for Steve Jobs, would there be smart phones. He says things were inevitably heading in this direction. While you had to work harder to get your information back in the day, the way wrestling was portrayed by Vince McMahon, there was money to be made. He says shame on journalists prior to Meltzer for not holding wrestling more accountable.
Wade brings up Raven playing up a slice of his personality and turning it into the Raven character. Raven adds that he had an uphill battle due to the albatross of the Johnny Polo character he portrayed prior. With an excellent point, Wade counters that fans remembered the Polo gimmick but saw it more as Vince McMahon forcing a BS character on Raven. They then felt the depressed angsty Raven was the true character.
Wade feels that Bray Wyatt does not protect his gimmick and is leaving a lot of money on the table. He points to his social media usage. Raven says social media is for people who aren’t famous and if they are, it plays on their insecurities. He doesn’t use it. He says even if it’s at the detriment of the success of his show, he feels it’s a bad thing. Wade says social media also does a lot of good, but he understands. He brings up Mickie James saying today’s wrestlers share too much.
Wade says WWE as a corporation is a media whore, that they’ll do anything for media attention and that leads to wrestlers over-sharing.
Raven says before he started his own podcast, he would never do an interview on one as a way of protecting his persona.
Wade says he while he wants wrestlers to protect their gimmick, he’s all for them doing long-form interviews after they’ve made their money.
Wade says MMA in some ways is more of a work than pro wrestling these days in the sense that the rivalries are amped up and orchestrated.
In another comparison between wrestling and stand-up comedy, Wade says no one wants to watch a stand up comic admit during their set that they’ve been telling the same joke for so long that their mind is wandering and they’re not really into it. This brings Raven to comment on how he loves Tango And Cash, but that Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell have both said that they hate it. He doesn’t want the stars of a movie he loves telling him the movie sucks.
Wade goes on about Lana and Rusev appearing out of character on Total Bellas. He says WWE is trying to chase a ten dollar bill while hundred dollar bills are flying out the window.
He brings it back to Raven’s indie wrestling mention from earlier. He says even on that level, it’s important that those wrestlers make the audience feel that Hansen-Vader could break out.
Raven then says he wants to be a heel manager for an MMA performer. This brings on a short discussion of MMA fighters not wanting to be heels. Wade says Brock Lesnar played a heel, but Raven says he still went for likability in his post-match interviews.
Raven wraps up by asking if there is any sort of feud between Wade and Dave Meltzer. Wade says they both have different areas of strength and focus, but there has never been any kind of feud. Wade still reads The Observer regularly. Raven asks if Wade ever finds anything in the Observer where he’s like “man, how’d he scoop me on that?” Wade says all the time. Raven tries to soften it by saying “I’m sure you scoop him all the time too.” Wade says less so than Meltzer scoops him. He says their focuses are different now. Both cover the business side, but Wade is more into podcasting and analysis where Dave is more of an historian. He says in the late-’80s-early-’90s, he and Meltzer would talk “between 2-10 hours per week”, but that they both got busy and stopped talking to each other regularly. Wade says Meltzer has told him no one in the world understands his job like Wade does. Wade feels that there is a bond there.
Raven asks Wade about his connections over the years. Wade says every story is different. Sometimes he got info from a wrestler’s wife instead of the wrestler because they were lonely and Wade turned out to be a friend and they’d talk for hours. He says it was usually top guys and not lower card guys as Raven had speculated. He says wrestlers don’t talk to other wrestlers about the business as much as they should and that he would become a hub for people to find out what was going on. He would establish trust by not revealing sources and this would naturally expand his business.
Raven wraps things up here and Wade jokes that this went pretty well considering there was no production meeting beforehand. He says this free flowing talk was what a phone conversation would be like between the two.
Rating: This was an awesome conversation. I tuned in today not knowing who the guest would be or if there even was one. This was the first time I’d listened to the Raven Effect and I must say, the silliness at the start of the show with Raven impersonating his dog barking and breaking into rhymes was startling. He addressed later in the episode how he’s fine with letting that side of himself out now that he’s no longer concerned with drawing money based on the Raven gimmick, and I can appreciate that.
As a person who doesn’t follow MMA, I’ll say the ten minutes they spent discussing it was actually really interesting. As Wade noted at the close of the show, this truly did sound like what you would hear if these two guys were simply having a phone conversation. There was a very free flow and Raven seemed to be learning a lot about Wade during the course of the interview. It even seemed at times as though Wade was the one hosting the show. I’ll also note, as the regular recap contributor to Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard at PWPodcasts, it was a change of pace to listen to the interviewee compliment and endorse Dave Meltzer. All in all, a very cool hour. Definitely recommended. 9/10
1:59: Wade Keller joins the show
2:20: UFC talk
15:44: Stan Hansen
19:50: Wrestling psychology
23:30: Jerry Lawler
32:15: Protecting gimmicks
42:00: Wrestlers on social media
53:27: Animosity between Keller and Meltzer
Jeff Rush is a life-long fan of professional wrestling. He’s attended the last match of both Andre the Giant and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s careers and two of the three matches of the Rock-Austin WrestleMania trilogy. As a child, he was once yelled at by John Tenta for sitting too close to him on a bench at Hershey Park. Jeff listens to way too many wrestling podcasts and watches way too much WWE Network. He also catches as much indie wrestling as he can when it comes through his home of New York City. @jefflikesstuff